High Time to Repeal the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

(Due to its having helped caused the Bubble in the Housing Market, etc.), it is High Time to Repeal the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”

By Kevin Stoda, a representative of thousands of harrassed victim of that Act

I have been dumbfounded at the lack of discussion in the USA and in Congress specifically on repealing one of the most devastating personal finance disasters of recent years. I am talking about the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”—which has made it difficult for Americans of all types to properly negotiate or threaten bad- and usurous lenders (like Citibank, Bank of America, Freddy Mac, and various bottom-feeding credit-buyer or credit-swap firms around the USA) with bankrupcy.

The 2005 Act was pased to protect the likes of Citibank and friends from their onw usurous tendencies and free-wheeling charging of unfair penalties on loans to unsuspecting credit card users and home buyers in the USA.

Why should these banks and ill-run financiers–and the firms they trade our debt with-around-the-clock—be allowed to continue to harrass Americans with penalties while they were bailed out in the trillions of dollars by the USA government with our tax money over the past 4 years?

It is insanely unfair not to grant reprieves to the Americans suffering under the thumbs of these goliaths.

Listen up, America!!!

NOTE: “The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) (Pub.L. 109-8, 119 Stat. 23, enacted April 20, 2005), was a law enacting several significant changes to the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. It was passed by the109th United States Congress on April 14, 2005 and signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 20, 2005. Most provisions of the act apply to cases filed on or after October 17, 2005.”

As of October 2005, those people who filed for bankurpcy were required to pay “much higher fees to bankruptcy attorneys, who …. raise[d] their rates by as much as 100 percent. That [was] to account for the increased liability the new law impose[d] on them, which … mean[t] more time verifying and filing client documents.”
Moreover, “[c]onsumers who . . . [sought] to file bankruptcy in the . . .months [thereafter] also [were expected to ] experience delays at the bankruptcy courts, which ha[d] been overrun . . . as debtors scrambled to file under the less stringent requirements of the old law” as 2005 was coming to a close.


In late 2005, my own credit management firm, U.S.Credit Management of Texas, went belly-up within two months of the 2005 Act going into effect. (Because that scandalous Texas firm declared bankrupcy and pocketed my money before the end of 2005, I was out of 8500 dollars that should have been used in that year to pay down my credit card debt with various creditors.]

By the way, I had HAD to contract with U.S.Credit Management of Texas in 2004 after Citibank had unilaterally lowered my credit limit arbitrarily—i.e. without contacting me at all— in winter/spring of the year before (2003) and then began to charge me penalties for their fraud.

NOTE: YES, I TOOK my claim against Citibank to the ATTORNEY GENERALS of TEXAS, Florida, New York, South Dakota, Kansas, and the USA. All of them agreed that what Citibank had done was unfair but they did not even slap them with a fine. Such was the pro-business, pro-banker and pro-fraud Washington climate during the 108th and 109th Congress.

Citibank did worse than this to me, though.

Apparently in 2006, Citibank decided it wasn’t going to get the fraudulent money back from me under the eyes of various attorney generals, so it sold my debt to a bottom feeder credit collection agency. I will collect Bottom Feeder No. 1. However, before undertaking this sale (involving probably pennies on the dollar), Citibank (1) added more fraudulent penalties to my total and (2) created still other fictitious debt for me on credit cards which I had closed out in the late 1990s.

Next, Bottom-feeder No. 1 contacts me and wants to make a deal. I give them 500 dollars and then they refuse to make a deal.


After that, I decided not to deal with these bottom feeding credit sharks at all. Alas, THAT DEBT was sold to Bottom Feeder #2, who then contacted my mother the next year saying she “could pay off my debt at a reduced amount if she sent in 1000 dollars”. She did this without contacting me. Then that Bottom feeder Credit Collector #2 upped its demands.

I told mom never to give these irrreputable firms any money–till they immediately negotiate away all penalites and the fraudulant charges first— i.e. prior to making an offer to settle my debt.
That credit collector has now sold the debt of mine from Citibank on to another, Bottom Feeder No. 3.
Now, my debt from Citibank has been sold for a third. Again, this January 2011, these new fraudulent bottom feeding (so-called) credit collectors have been brazenly calling my mother once a week. This particular Credit Collector (Bottom Feeder #3) is still harrassing my family in the USA—even though I live and work in Taiwan.

This is all being done on the back of Citibank’s fraudulent charges dating to 2003 and earlier. It has been made possible by the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”, which bankrupted U.S. Credit Management and has emboldened Citibank and others to make money off debt, which they should have fairly negotiated downward years ago.

I have written the 3rd Bottom Feeder from Taiwan two times already and asked that they stop harrassing my family.

They continue to harrass my mother and family with phone calls.

Please, 112th Congress, repeal that slavery-creating “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” before our grand children are enslaved by the foibles of the 109th congress.


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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15 Responses to High Time to Repeal the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

  1. eslkevin says:


    October 23, 2007

    Citibank, U.S. Credit Management and Me

    By Kevin Anthony Stoda

    Citibank, U.S. Credit Management and Me By Kevin Stoda

    I have written previously how CITIBANK’s deceitful practices and predatory lending techniques functioned to almost send me into bankruptcy in 2003-2006. These 2 popular articles were simply called CITIBANK AND ME (Part 1) and CITIBANK AND ME (Part 2). I had planned to follow up on this by noting how CITIBANK and other large U.S. credit houses support a whole network of credit counseling and credit management firms. One of the more scandalous of such credit management firms, which I had been involved in, was U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas. I will discuss this further below.

    The fact is that what Citibank and other banks are up to around the world is far more than a North American affair. (See Mikko’s CITY BANK AND ME-A FARCE IN INFINITE PARTS.) For this reason Citibank-UK is getting its share of criticism in recent months.

    My current financial manager in Kuwait calls a lot of the debt management schemes and investment con-games that are soaking the elderly “Cowboys”. This is because the Brits and most of the rest of the planet have come to call the worst of American individualism and unfettered capitalism “cowboyism”.

    While I think such terminology is unfair to “honest hardworking cowboys” and “gauchos” around the globe, I think it is safe to say that when America talks about its image problem abroad, America’s corporate actors are among the worst “cowboys” out there.

    The obvious problem is that corporations and members of such organizations are not held criminally accountable. Further, America and world communities of corporatists fail to regulate each other. The late Anita Roddick once asked why are not such companies, like CitiGroup, Union Carbide, Exxon-Mobile, being kicked off of Stock Exchanges?

    Roddick, who passed away this past month, worked hard to change business as usual around the globe. The following quote of Roddick’s is from one of the last interviews the founder of Body Shop gave. (It was presented on Democracy Now recently.)

    ANITA RODDICK: “I remember being invited to the International Chamber of Commerce some years back to do a talk, and I’m always invited, because, you know, I’m supposed to be a founder of a very interesting organization, top brand in the world and no advertising. You know, the question is, ‘What can she tell us? You know, she didn’t go to business school. I mean, she must have tripped, and this must’ve been a series of brilliant accidents. Well, let’s see what we can learn. It’s going to be really cheap bringing her over.'”

    “And I remember always going into these conferences and never telling people what I am going to say, because I usually travel. Before I go onto a conference, I spend time in the area. And I traveled with the Huichol Indians, and I saw the pesticides that are produced, that are scattered in those tobacco fields, and all the babies that were born with no genitalia as a result. And within the audience were a lot of the heads of tobacco companies in this particular International Chamber of Commerce. And I was showing the slides and telling the story.”

    “And the most painful thing was their reaction. It was almost a coldless sense — a bloodless sense of good manners. They clapped, they — no reaction, no embarrassment, no shifting around in the chair, no — you know, none of this. It was an acceptance: “Well, this is business. Hang on, you know, this is business. We’ve got business here. Now, come on, grow up. Now, you know, we’re business people. We have to be strong about this.” And it reminded me what Mahatma Gandhi said when he called this source of indifference is timid kindness, where you intellectually know that this is wrong, but that knowledge cannot move you to action, does not polish your human spirit to such outrage that you promise yourself you would never do these things, never be part of this.”

    “And so, the question, which is a big conundrum for many of us, is, why do people who are good and true — care for their kids, are good in the community — why are they so careless? Is it racism? Is it easiest to say — is that, you know, well, we don’t care that, because it’s not part of our local community; this is not a local problem; this is so far away that we can’t relate — is it that? Is it because we have a language which approves of this? You know, we approve of this. This is a language of business. Is it maybe the clothes we wear? The minute we’re going into the office, we’re wearing these suits and these ties, this new coat of appearance that separate us from who we are as fathers and husbands?”

    “Whatever it is, it is fashioning a schizophrenia in many of us, or many business people, that allow this to happen. I’ve never understood how people can go to church and pray and ask forgiveness, but never ask forgiveness about their behavior. I can’t get it. I don’t know what happens or what — maybe there’s something in — maybe it’s something in the breakfast cereal that stops people having a sense of empathy with the human condition or stops them being imaginative to know the responses of their actions. I am utterly, utterly confounded. I do not know why.”

    Worse than adversely affecting the poor, there is also evidence that Citigroup and similar corporations are working continually against good governance and the commonweal. (Check out Jake Lewis’ “Citigroup Bankrupting Democracy” for this and similar trends in multinational corporations born in America.) Profits-before-people is drilled into these people in the corporate world.


    Now, if we want to see how the name “U.S.” can become tainted within American borders quite easily through bad corporate greed and bad corporate management, let us look at the service company and credit negotiating company, now bankrupt, called U.S. Credit Management of Texas.

    Recall that I had first become involved with U.S. Credit Management in January 2004 after (1) Citibank had unfairly charged me several thousand dollars in penalties and caused me to borrow more money from Peter [i.e., my family] to pay Paul [i.e., Citibank and other creditors] in 2003.

    Recall, also, that (2) I had closed out all of my credit card accounts as of November 2003 and had originally worked with a more well-known credit counseling and management company firm out of Florida.

    Finally, recall how (3) that particular firm had gotten a number of my creditors to approved a repayment schedule for me–only to later come back to me and try have CITIBANK raise my monthly payment to them by another 8 to 10 percent after I had sent in 500 plus dollars to obtain their services.

    This roll-over to Citibank approach of theirs had created great distrust between that particular credit management company. So, I had gone on-line looking for a firm with more integrity.

    In U.S. Credit Management, I felt I had found such a firm.

    Moreover, since I was registered living in Killeen, Texas at the time, I felt that having a local [Texas State or regional company] handle my debt management and negotiations with tough-guys like CITIGROUP would be very beneficial in both the short and long terms.

    After reviewing an article published at that time on CNN.com about how U.S. Credit Management was working wonders with client’s debts, I agreed at the end of January 2004 to put my debt matters into their hands.

    How did U.S. Credit Management claim to operate more successfully and differently than other credit management consultants?

    Well, U.S. Credit Management simply told Citibank and other lending & credit agencies that the client would go bankrupt if they didn’t agree to back off. They would then seek first to pay off the smallest loans at a reduced rate of overall debt. All the while, monthly amounts were deducted from my Texas based IBC Bank. This money would become a war chests of sorts. Every few months U.S. Credit Management would contact the bigger lenders and ask them to accept a lower overall debt and reduction of fees and interest if that creditor would take the lump-sum offer.

    I was told by a sweet talking and sweet sounding Texan with a Latina-accent (and a great heart for the unjustly treated poor credit-crunched American) that within 3 ½ years all my creditors would settle. If not, I still wouldn’t be expected to put any more of my money in the kitty every month. It was U.S. Credit Management’s contractual agreement to get the big bad creditors to eventually settle. That is why they called themselves credit negotiators.

    Now, you may not have believed this sort of tactic to be plausible.

    However, over the years, I had come to learn exactly how much lenders and credit management firms were making each year. (Just look at Sallie Mae rolling in the doe back up in Lawrence, Kansas where I once lived and studied!) I felt that the Irving, Texas based U.S. Credit Management could pull this negotiation off and make a profit. All U.S. Credit Management needed to make clear to creditors was that the threat of a my declaring bankruptcy was likely or plausible.

    Meanwhile, I was so far in the hole at that time (January 2004) that I had to accept a job to teach in the Middle East.

    This move of mine outside continental North America, I felt, should make clear to my creditors that I could or would be ready to go ahead and declare bankruptcy at just about any time.


    Prior to the summer of 2005, it was much easier for debtors across America to declare bankruptcy than it is today.

    However, the Republican-led Congress of 2005 passed legislation making it much harder for the average American suffering credit problems to declare bankruptcy and start over again. President Bush quickly signed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (S. 256) into law.

    This was a hugely mean-spirited act.

    This new law has supposedly stopped a few case of unwarranted bankruptcies in the USA. On the other hand, the legislation has certainly adversely affected those people who have been holding home- and condominium loans since 2005.

    Many of these people have lost their homes and/or mortgages–and have no recourse to debt relief at much earlier stages due to the less likelihood that they might eventually threaten bankruptcy.

    Amazingly, without me knowing it, U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas, who had already taken nearly 8000 dollars from my bank account in Texas, quietly decided to use a loophole and did in fact fully declare bankruptcy in late 2005.

    Thousands of dollars of mine went up the creek with that bankruptcy of U.S. Credit Management. Many other Texans (and other Americans) lost big in that and related scandals at U.S. Credit Management in the middle part of this decade.

    As January 1, 2006 dawned, not only was I up a creek without a paddle (and out of 8000-plus dollars in savings), but I was once again having to renegotiate my own loans individually with all my creditors-including Citibank.


    By March 2006, I was fully distraught and aware that I had been a victim (along with many others) of a scam of sorts by U.S. Credit Management, a company ostensibly set up to help people in debt.

    I have contacted several Attorney Generals and the police chief in Irving Texas, but I have received no word on whether I will ever get any money back from the bankruptcy of Texas’ U.S. Credit Management.

    Meanwhile, I had become busy contacting all the creditors I knew of-including Citibank Mastercard.

    The good news is that I was able to settle all of my accounts–accept two–by August 2006.

    That is likely because I had informed them all that I was victim of the U.S. Credit Management Scandal. Knowing that I had just been taken through the ringer by U.S. Credit Management, many of my creditors took off all of my penalties–and in some cases part of my debt.

    Finally, by September 2006 only 2 creditors remained-and you guessed it: One of these firms was Citibank.


    As of this writing, I believe my credit rating in my homeland is still horrendous. I was back in the USA this summer and I tried-just for fun-to see if I could get a credit card.

    Naturally, I couldn’t.

    Meanwhile, as long as Citibank refuses to fairly settle my debt-by taking off all fees and accrued interest, I do not plan to settle.

    Nor will I likely ever have good credit rating in the USA.

    This is sad because, aside from my problems with Citibank over the past 4 to 5 years, I have a fairly impeccable credit record.

    I have paid down (or off) my school loans-unlike many Republican Party leaders. I have paid off a great range of other debts-including loans I took out to purchase vehicles over the decade. I have also paid off any property debts I have had.

    Nonetheless, unless American Banks and the American crediting and lending system improve, I will never likely be able to buy a home in the USA.
    I certainly have to thank the 2005 Congress and Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. (Recall that none of my candidates won in November 2004-as usual).
    Most of all, I have 2 corporate entities to thank for this plight of mine in the world of banking, lending and credit: [1] the now defunct U.S. Credit Management of Irving, Texas and [2] Citigroup of South Dakota (or wherever in the world it wishes to seek out the best or worst corporate laws).


    This past spring 2007, Citibank was back to its old tricks. It had apparently sold my debt to an agency in Colorado.

    This agency sweet talked my mom in Missouri out of over 500 dollars last spring to help me (her dear son who has been forced to work abroad for so long) clear that old Citibank-laden debt.

    When I heard this, I told mom not to pay, but it was too late.

    I explained to my mother that such firms are the bottom feeders (with Citibank at the top). These agencies buy up bad debt for pennies on the dollar and try to badger people into paying off the debt at a reduced rate.

    The very existence of these bottom feeders are why I had misread the tough cowboy- nature of U.S. Credit Management of Irving Texas

    However, as my new financial planner in Kuwait tells me the American Cowboy can also be the cover for a reckless and poorly managed corporate scheme, like that of the U.S. Credit Management in Texas.


    In case anyone else was effected adversely by a Credit Management company in Texas. They might try contacting: Credit Repair Scams Lawsuit site: http://www.creditscamlawsuits.com/credit_scam_lawsuit_lawyer_alexander.htm

    I hope they aren’t a scam.

    Here is a more national site: http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/case/credit_repair.html

    Many U.S. states have similar site. Just google or yahoo for them with these key words: “Credit Repair Scams Lawsuit.”

    “Body Shop Founder & Environmental Campaigner Anita Roddick 1942-2007”, http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/22/1415259 “Citi-Group-Bankrupting Democracy”, http://multinationalmonitor.org/mm2002/02april/april02corp2.html
    Mikko, CITY BANK AND ME-A FARCE IN INFINITE PARTS, http://www.jarvenpaa.org/mikko/2007/09/stupidity-citibank-and-me-farce-in.html

    Stoda, Kevin, CITIBANK AND ME (Part 1), http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/2007/04/citibank-and-me-part-1.html

    Stoda, Kevin, CITIBANK AND ME (Part 2), http://the-teacher.blogspot.com/2007/04/citibank-and-me-part-2.html

    • eslkevin says:

      Who else gets letters from these sleezy bottom feeders????

      I have notified this office on March 13 2 times, i.e. within 30 days after receiving this notice that I dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof.
      Kevin Stoda
      You claim this account is under your care. I know no details of it. I currently live in Taiwan. cContact me here with any scanned documents.
      Current Creditor:LVNV Funding LLC

      726Exchange Street – Suite 700, Buffalo, NY 14210
      Toll: 1-866-899-1978, Fax: (716) 852-1620

      Previous creditor: Citibank
      Current Creditor:LVNV Funding LLC

      Dear Kevin A Stoda:

      This company has been engaged by Resurgent Capital Services, LP, the srevicre of the account, to resolve your delinquent debt of $16387.63. Please submit your payment and make your check or money order payable to capital Management Services, LP to the above address.

      Unless you notify this office within 30 days after receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will assume this debt is valid. If you notify this office in writing within 30 days from receiving this notice that you dispute the validity of this debt or any portion thereof, this office will obtain verification of the debt or obtain a copy of the judgment and mail you a copy of such verification or judgment. If you request this office in writing within 30 days after receiving this notice this office will provide you with the name and address of the original creditor, if different than the current creditor.

      Capital Management Services, LP is authorized to accept less than the full balance due as settlement of the above account.The settlement amount of , which represents 15% of the amount presently owed, is due in our office no later than forty-five (45) days after receiving this notice. we are not obligated to renew this offer.

      For your convenience, this settlement maybe made online at: http://www.cms-trans.com. For other payment options, please contact Capital Management Services, LP at 726 Exchange Street, Suite 700, Buffalo, NY 14210 or call 1-866-899-1978. Mon. through Thurs. 8 am – 11pm ET, Fri. 8 am – 10 pm ET, Sat.8am – 4 pm ET.

      This is an attempt to collect a debt; any information obtained will be used for that purpose. This communication is from a debt collector.

  2. Sam Martin says:

    This is an interesting blog site that always has something nice to offer through its posts.Keep posting similar interesting posts on your site.Thanks for sharing.

  3. eslkevin says:

    LVNV Funding LLC: What to do if you find them on your credit report

    [Join discussion]
    By Good Nelly
    Good Nelly
    Ask Nelly

    LVNV Funding LLC is a collection agency that works for creditors to collect on charged-off debt accounts. However, most of the time LVNV appears to forward their accounts to various other collection agencies and attorneys for collection instead of managing the accounts themselves. If you want to know what to do if you find LVNV listing on your credit report or how they treat consumers, check out the topics given below:

    What to do when LVNV Funding shows up on your credit report

    How LVNV Funding treats consumers and reports credit information

    How to contact LVNV Funding LLC

    What to do when LVNV Funding shows up on your credit report
    Here’s what you need to do when LVNV account shows up on your credit report or when a collection agency (CA) insists that you pay a debt they acquired from LVNV.
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    Previous Next

    Check if the Statute of Limitations (SOL) has expired: If the SOL has expired, then you don’t have to worry about them taking you to court. If yes, then send an SOL Expiration letter to the CA asking them to stop contacting you.
    Request a validation of the account: If you find that the SOL hasn’t expired, and you’re not sure whether you owe money to LVNV Funding LLC, send a request to validate the debt. Once you have proof that you owe the balance on the account, negotiate a payment agreement or a settlement agreement.
    Dispute the debt: You need to dispute the account if:
    You do not have an account with LVNV: If you didn’t open the account LVNV Funding LLC wants you to pay on, you should co-ordinate with the credit bureaus and have the listing deleted from your report.
    You’ve already paid the bill: In this case, dispute the item with the collection agency and the CA will verify it with your original creditor. You should also co-ordinate with the credit bureau so that the account shows up as “Paid” on your credit report. However, you’ll have to provide proof that you have paid the bill.
    The account shows up on your credit report even after 7 years and 180 days: Usually accounts with negative remarks shouldn’t reflect on your credit report after 7 years and 180 days from the date of the first delinquency. If your account shows up even after this time period has expired, you should contact the credit bureaus and have the listing removed. You can also sue the collection agency in small claims court for violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

    How LVNV Funding treats consumers and reports credit information

    Check out these LVNV Funding complaints made by community members and guests in the DebtCC forum.

    Filing lawsuit for wrong debt: One consumer reports that LVNV Funding LLC has filed a lawsuit against his old mother for a bill which she didn’t owe. The lady had no idea as to which company has transferred credit information on her name to LVNV. Learn more…
    No response to validation letters: Debtors complain that they receive repeated phone calls from the attorneys associated with the CA but when they send validation letters, the CA or the attorneys do not respond. One consumer sent a validation letter to one of the attorneys and after 2 months, he received a letter of response from a different attorney. However, the amount mentioned in the letter of response was similar to the amount demanded by the attorney to whom the validation letter was sent. Check out these further details…
    Account re-entry on credit report after 7 years: LVNV Funding LLC may purchase a default account from a creditor and then report it on your credit report as a new charge with a new date. This may happen even though the negative listing has stayed on the credit report for 7 years and is about to be erased from the report. Learn more…
    Reporting debts which are not owed: Many believe LVNV Funding LLC harasses people for money and reports outstanding balances to the credit bureaus even though consumers may not owe the money. Find out more…

    One consumer is said to have received a summons even though the CA promised to look into the matter when they were sent the validation letter. However, the papers were not stamped or signed by a court clerk. A few days later, the consumer learned that his wages would be garnished. But he couldn’t just verify whether he actually owed any money. Learn the details…
    Issue with disputed account: A consumer received a call from LVNV Funding LLC for the money he owed on an MCI account. The CA couldn’t give him the account number, phone number, and other account details. The consumer had received a bill earlier from MCI, but he had refused to pay it and had disputed the amount.

    However, LVNV made sure that the account showed up on his credit report even though it had been more than 7 years. The consumer asked the CA to co-ordinate with the credit bureau so that his credit report showed “Account disputed”. But LVNV didn’t agree and insisted that they would only clear his credit up if he would settle the bill. Find out more…

    How to contact LVNV Funding LLC

    If you need to contact LVNV Funding collection agency regarding payment issues or to dispute the account held by them, use the contact information given below:

    P.O.Box 3038
    Evansville, IN 47730

    Telephone: (886) 861-8182, (866) 464-1183
    Fax: (812) 428-3523

  4. Kevin Stoda says:

    April 26, 2011


    By Danny Schechter


    A Hated Financial Center Is Bouncing Back. How did they Do It?

    By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime of Our Time

    Two years ago as financial reform was put on the U.S. Congressional agenda, a skeptical Senator, Dick Durbin of Illinois, spoke of the power of the banks over the country’s legislative process.

    “They run the place,” he said matter of factly.

    The comment was then treated as a sidebar in the few newspapers that carried it, perhaps because it hinted at how interests, not ideology, dictate what happens on Capital Hill.

    The remark about a shadowy power structure far more important than all the partisan in-fighting that dominates the news is worth recalling as a way of explaining how little has been done to rain in Wall Street in the years since its crash virtually wrecked the global economy.

    It is also worth realizing that the people who “run the place” usually do so in ways that rarely get high profile media scrutiny or even public attention.

    During the deliberations on re-regulating banks, they mounted a formidable army of lobbyists. It was reported that there was a many as 25 industry lobbyists were assigned to each member of Congress.

    Even as new laws passed to satisfy an angry public, the industry dominated the process of what the laws would cover and how.

    They also spread money around to help politicians that helped them For years, those donations were made on a non-partisan base with Democrats as well as Republicans a beneficiary of carefully targeted help. Today, they are cutting off the Democrats who pushed financial reform.

    The corporate sector is following suit. Nominally “liberal” companies like BP, criticized by the White House sharply for the Gulf Oil spill is pouring money not oil, into GOP coffers.

    As bi-partisanship fades, and certain ideological lines are drawn more sharply, the bankers are now favoring the Republicans financially, perhaps to thank them for erecting a unified wall against tighter rules for banks.

    The GOP, led by the pro-free market slogans of the Tea Party are busy defunding financial regulators as well.

    Right-wingers in turn are being funded by wealthy billionaire backers including the shadowy Koch Brothers responsible for backing the anti union programs of Governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin. These campaigns are designed to neuter all opposition to a conservatve agenda.

    Meanwhile, President Obama reaches into the corporate sector for “help” on his economic “recovery” agenda. In recent months, he named Jeffrey R. Immelt, President of General Electric, a company known for outsourcing jobs as his jobs advisor.

    He plucked William Daley from the American Chamber of Commerce to become his Chief of Staff.

    Daley recently scolded politicians for calling for the prosecution of Wall Street criminals. He said that job belongs to producers in Hollywood, not lawmakers.

    These efforts have emboldened other arms of Wall Street to intervene in politics. The most visible last week was the statement by the ratings agency Standard and Poors that it was revising the country’s credit rating as “negative,” warning that will consider lowering the long term rating of the United States “within two years”

    Many stocks fell, but bond markets ignored it. Former International Monetary Fund economist Simon Johnson raised questions about their decision of a kind absent in most media outlets.

    Writing on his website Baseline Scenario, he noted that few outlets pointed out how inaccurate the ratiings agencies had been at the height of the crisis, and how irresponsibly they hyped worthless bonds packed with sub prime junk. Yet once again they were treated as credible despite sloppy analysis.

    The main problem is that S&P did not lay out even the most basic numbers or even point readers towards the nonpartisan and definitive Congressional Budget Office analysis of medium- and longer-term budget issues. This matters, because the CBO numbers definitely do not show debt exploding upwards immediately from today …”

    Bloggers like Cannonfire go further arguing that “The revised credit rating is meant to push the administration and lawmakers into going after Social Security and Medicare. The right-wing now has an additional propaganda tool to push for draconian cuts in areas that will most hurt working and middle class Americans.

    Here’s the kicker: Standard and Poors and Moody’s are private firms. They don’t work for the United States; they serve the interest of Wall Street banks. 2008 taught us that they are completely unaccountable.”

    Doug Smith adds on the influential Naked Capitalism blog that Wall Streed should know that joining the Tea Party Jihad on government spending will be counterproductive for economic recovery.

    “We know the banksters control both parties and are immune from any threats to their bonuses or their liberty. Still, even on the banksters’ own terms of extend-and-pretend, these cuts are idiotic”

    Despite all of its frauds and deceptions, Wall Street has bought its way out of the many pressures that it change its ways. In a special issue. New York Magazine concludes that in this economic war, “Wall Street Won.”

    Their editors write, “In the political realm, Wall Street faced the prospect of root-and-branch reregulation, up to and including the potential nationalization of the industry’s largest players, and in the cultural realm its transfiguration into a kind of pariah state. Once upon a time, the Street’s leading lights had been glamorized and admired to the point of worship; now the likes of Robert Rubin, Lloyd Blankfein, and Richard Fuld were relentlessly pilloried and demonized….

    Yet today on Wall Street, all of that seems a very long time ago. Not only are the banks rolling in dough again, but their denizens’ customs and sense of self-esteem have largely reverted to the status quo ante.”

    A retired, well-known journalist, James Clay Miller, notes that media coverage of these issues adds to the confusion because it is often superficial and misleading.

    “Corporate media refuse to tell many of the stories of bank fraud, as they decline to tell many of the stories that would show the public the corporate takeover of government, but the facts are available to those who recognize that they won’t learn much of importance from CNN.”

    The public is not just uninformed; it is unorganized on these issues and not fighting back. The power of the bank lobby can be compared to the pro-Israel lobby in the sense it dominates the discourse on this issue.

    With a besieged Democratic administration siding with the banks, unions and activists may not be willing or able to challenge Wall Street. They are so desperate to hold on to the White House, they seem willing to pull any potential punches to make Wall Street a target.

    Only a national high profile and populist campaign will be able to stop the financial industry from consolidating its clout. The banks are banking on their ability to stop such a campaign before it starts or gains any traction.

    News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film PlundertheCrimeofOur Time about the financial crisis as a crime story. (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com)


  5. eslkevin says:


    April 26, 2011

    Obama “Compromise” With Republicans Is “Rotten Deal” For Most Americans

    By Sherwood Ross

    President Obama’s compromise with Congressional Republicans to reduce the deficit is “a rotten deal” that “hits the poor and the middle class the hardest,” The Nation magazine said in a May 2 nd editorial.

    The president may have called for “shared sacrifice”to reduce the budget by $4 trillion over the next 12 years but for every $1 raised by closing tax loopholes for the wealthy, he proposes $2 in spending cuts, the liberal magazine says.

    And “Two-thirds of those cuts would come from education, health and other social programs while one-third would come from the military budget,” the magazine editorialized.

    ” The president’s vision of ‘shared sacrifice,’ in other words, hits the poor and the middle class hardest. Meanwhile, wealthy Americans and the military are asked to sacrifice less, even though it was unfunded tax cuts and wars that got us a deficit in the first place,” the editorial continued.

    To avoid a government shutdown, the president agreed to a 2011 budget compromise that cut spending by $38 billion, “the majority of which will come from the departments of education, labor and health,” The Nation pointed out.

    The magazine concluded Mr. Obama’s “balanced approach” “conceded too much too early to the deficit hawks and austerity pushers.” Where he “needed to reset the debate,” instead “he split the difference.”

    In a similar vein, former Labor Secy. Robert Reich wrote on his blog the president “is losing the war of ideas because he won’t tell the American public the truth: That we need more government spending now—not less—in order to get out of the gravitational pull of the Great Recession.”

    That’s because “the increasingly lopsided distribution of income and wealth has robbed the vast working middle class of the purchasing power they need to keep the economy going at full capacity,” Reich explained.

    Early in the last century, enlightened industrialists raised workers’ salaries so they could buy the goods they were manufacturing. Today, corporations show zero loyalty to their workers. They do not cut productive workers in for a share of the profits. Working Americans, Reich says, are earning on average “only about $280 more a year than 30 years ago, adjusted for inflation. That’s less than a 1 percent gain over more than a third of a century.”

    Worse, corporations whose employees made them great in the first place quit the country to find cheaper labor overseas. And many of the new jobs being created in recent months are bottom-of-the-barrel, minimum wage work.

    ” Real hourly wages continue to fall,” Reich says, because “with unemployment so high, most people have no bargaining power and will take whatever they can get.”

    At the same time ever more families are sliding into poverty, signing up for food stamps, and lining up at church soup kitchens, “Wall Street profits soared to $426.5 billion last quarter,” Reich says.

    Since Corporate America is largely responsible for the Great Recession by starving its workers of the purchasing power they need to put punch back into the economy, you might think companies would plow some of their lush profits back into the work force. You might think the oil companies would share some of their fabulous profits with motorists. But no such luck.

    Worse, the corporate types and their Republican allies in Congress want to stop federal and state governments from paying their workers fairly and creating needed public service jobs. Instead, they want to lay off loyal employees. They want to bust the unions. They move whole factories overseas. They abandon cities and counties, robbing them of their industrial base. They relocate offshore to evade taxes. They even outsource help-line jobs to low-paid workers in India. And if they can, they will privatize Social Security and gut Medicare.

    This is capitalism without a heart, without a conscience.

    Yet if the private sector will not live up to its responsibilities, who would deny government the role of employer of last resort and the trainer of last resort?

    Right now, not tomorrow, the U.S. needs to provide a job for every person who wants to work. Right now, the U.S. has got to mobilize and upgrade a vast network of vocational training facilities—in trade schools, union halls, community colleges and, yes, corporations—to train millions of workers in skilled trades. Right now, the U.S. needs to create millions of jobs in day care centers, hospitals, the building trades and for work on all phases of infrastructure—from replacing sewer and water pipes, to creating solar, sea, and wind power plants, to refurbishing run-down housing and beautifying deteriorating communities.

    Tragically, Mr. Obama is virtually blind to the needs of the American people. He is smitten with the imperial vision. Americans have been electing presidents who, upon taking office, act like kings and kill like tyrants, and he is no exception. Americans want jobs at home, not wars abroad. They want money for local schools, not for foreign bases. They want peace and prosperity. At the least, Democrats need a new standard-bearer in 2012. Americans need a Green Revolution. President Obama talks a great game. But his promises before an election are broken after he’s elected. And his foreign policy of wars and assassinations is cruel and contemptible. It’s time for a change! #

    Author’s Bio: Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular “Workplace” column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public relations director for a major civil rights organization.

  6. eslkevin says:


    April 26, 2011

    How Americans Can Get Up and Stand Up

    By David Swanson

    In December 2009, psychologist Bruce Levine published an article at Alternet called “Are Americans a Broken People?” His timing couldn’t have been better. Americans of good will and bad analysis were suffering a severe fit of Obamanation withdrawal. The article was reposted everywhere, commented on endlessly, and responded to voluminously. (This was my response.) Levine has now developed his article into an important book called “Get Up, Stand Up.”

    Setting aside the particular burst of raging defeatism that has swept through the ranks of borderline Democratic Party loyalists who had placed their hopes in the Savior of 2008, there was always a problem. We had sat on our hands through blatantly stolen elections. We shrank the peace movement as wars grew less popular. We watched the government hand our grandchildren’s unearned pay to Wall Street in the biggest theft ever committed, and while a majority of us “opposed” it, almost nobody did a goddamn thing about it. The labor movement won’t engage in serious production-halting strikes, being too busy rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Wal-Mart shoppers trample people to death for cheap televisions and refuse orders to disperse, but crowds protesting enormous crimes pen themselves in free-speech cages, while airport travelers meekly submit to gropings and pornoscans, and the natural environment is being deliberately and methodically destroyed for all time before our knowing but glassy eyes. There’s a long-standing lack in our society of whatever it is that causes other societies to not put up with this kind of sh*t.

    Let’s set some other things aside for the moment. We need a lot of reforms to the structure of our country. Political bribery should be criminalized, union organizing should be legalized, the media cartel should be broken up, the two political parties should be broken up, etc. We need better leadership in activist campaigns, which should stop bowing down before the Democratic Party, selling out, and opposing aggressive nonviolent disruption of business and murder as usual. I believe those are all hugely important topics. Activist energy is being misdirected and under-utilized all the time. It also exists in far greater measure than the corporate media tells us, adding to the importance of creating a useful communications system. But Levine’s topic, which does not necessarily exclude or dismiss any others, is the state of the individual U.S. activist, or inactivist as the case may be.

    When a group of people gives President Obama $76,000 in order to politely protest his criminal policies for a couple of minutes, there is something wrong with their strategy. But there is probably something wrong in their souls as well. And everyone else in the room who stands by embarrassed that people would bring up the topic of torture: are they healthy? And the hundreds of millions of people doing nothing and telling each other that nothing can be done? There may not be a purely systemic solution to their mental damage. There may be something broken inside them. They may need to be cured of some strain of bubonic babbittry or corporatocritis. And there may or may not be a cure.

    I’ve struggled with how to answer what I think of as the “But why don’t we all just kill ourselves?” questions that really started coming up in speaking events in 2009. In the guise of asking a question of an author, people cough defeatism all over the room by declaring everything hopeless and citing some of the supposed reasons why. How does one respond? Telling people they’re mentally damaged doesn’t seem an ideal solution. Telling people success is right around the corner is dishonest and unpersuasive. I’d prefer ultimately to see people able to do what needs doing and enjoy it regardless of whether success is visible on the horizon or not. I’d like to see us motivated by morality. Similarly, I think the peace movement’s focus on the damage wars do to Americans is off-track, as U.S. wars do ever less damage to Americans while killing ever more people. Unless we learn to care about non-Americans, our military will destroy the world. But how do we get to the point where people are motivated by morality, or even by a combination of morality, expectation of success, excitement, solidarity, and peer pressure? The same facts can prove that change is hopeless or guaranteed; the choice comes from inside each person. How do we make it the right one?

    This is where Levine’s book begins to point us in some very useful directions. We need to develop individual self-respect and collective self-confidence, Levine writes. We need to unite as anti-authoritarians, regardless of other differences. We need to learn from immigrant groups that have been least infected by our culture of disempowerment. Many factors are working against us: long work hours, lack of health care, and lack of job security or home security. Psychologists now drug people who display signs of anti-authoritarianism, which is treated as a crime. Our prisons are packed with some of our society’s most rebellious, and therefore useful, members. We’re administered every greater doses of television, which is ruinous regardless of the content:

    “Researchers confirm that, regardless of the programming, viewers’ brainwaves slow down, transforming them closer to a hypnotic state. That’s part of the explanation for why it’s so hard to turn the television off even when it’s not enjoyable — we have become pacified by it.”

    While watching all that television, we fail to talk to each other and build friendships. Increasingly, Americans live alone and lack confidants, something online social media provide only a false sense of. If we had more friends we would be more active citizens. We have learned helplessness, writes Levine, comparing us to a group of dogs in an experiment who were conditioned to believe they could not escape an electric shock and who then failed to escape even when an easy way out was made available.

    We also feel helpless because we are. Increasingly, Americans do not know how to grow their own food or even cook their own food, repair their car or their plumbing, or otherwise survive without expert assistance. This, too, teaches inactivism. We’re in debt, including student debt, which tends to make people less challenging of their employers. We also feel spied on because we are, by both our employers and the government, and even by family members. We’re trained to value money and to put a price on everything. We’re conditioned to identify with the Wall Street gang that’s robbing us blind. We’re taught in school to be elitist and, above all, obedient. And if we’re not, we’re diagnosed with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder.” U.S. psychologists once invented a disease with which to blame slaves for escaping. They now have diseases for activism.

    According to Levine we are in an abusive relationship with corporatocracy, and the abuse has been made to seem normal. Obsession with money and consumption and greed has been normalized. Banks foreclosing on people’s homes is viewed as a natural force or a law of physics, not an immoral act by a bunch of bankers. We must start seeing through lies and treating horrors we have come to accept as horrors to be resisted. We must, Levine writes, forgive ourselves for believing the lies, stop allowing the corporatocracy to define us, and form relationships with other survivors.

    Most people think,
    Great god will come from the skies,
    Take away everything
    And make everybody feel high.
    But if you know what life is worth,
    You will look for yours on earth:
    And now you see the light,
    You stand up for your rights.

    We need to build social connectedness, and to raise children and young people with self-respect. This means that parents and teachers have a special role in developing citizens capable of activism. This also means that our salvation is years away — unless we can find therapy for adults. Levine is a psychologist who often finds his patients to have been misdiagnosed with a medical problem when their problem is political:

    “I have counseled hundreds of young people and adults who had been previously labeled with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, substance abuse, depression, schizophrenia, and other psychiatric diagnoses. What strikes me is how many of these people are essentially anti-authoritarians.”

    Essentially. Meaning they’re built that way. They’re what our society needs to fight off the virus of tyrannical plutocracy, and yet we remove them with drugs, prisons, and coercion. Levine tells parents that coercing an anti-authoritarian child is counterproductive:

    “I ask them if they would try to coerce their homosexual child into being heterosexual or vice versa, and most say, ‘Of course not!’ And so they begin to see that temperamentally anti-authoritarian children cannot be similarly coerced without great resentment.”

    What if we didn’t? What if we were all raised ideally and the prison walls came tumbling down? Then what? Then populists should unite across the lines of non-corporatist issues, those things like abortion and guns that the corporatocracy takes no position on. They should organize, win small victories, and develop confidence. They should learn from current examples of success, which my Email box is drowning in but I never find in the newspaper. They should learn from past successes: Levine recommends Lawrence Goodwyn’s book “The Populist Moment,” as do I, for its account of the building of a mass movement at the end of the nineteenth century.

    Our movement should not begin or end or necessarily be involved at all in electoral politics. Every campaign and tactic should be evaluated for whether it builds individual self-respect and collective self-confidence. The answer to the ubiquitous question “Who can run against Obama for us?” should not be a list of names. There are thousands of qualified candidates. The answer is that we should build a confident and militant movement that will challenge the corporatocracy. The replacement or reform of politicians will follow.

    “A major role of the US government in a corporatocracy,” writes Levine, “is to deflect people’s anger from the corporate elite. The corporate elite need elected officials to be taken seriously by the populace. Thus, a demonstration against government is actually a statement that the people are taking their elected officials seriously, which is exactly what the corporate elite want, though of course the elite don’t want demonstrations to actually alter government policy in ways that negatively affect the elite.”

    Immigrants rights marches in 2006, Levine recalls, blocked bad legislation in Congress. But the corporatocracy was neutral or on the side of the immigrants. The civil rights marches of the 1960s were more effective than the anti-war marches, Levine argues, because the corporatocracy backed the war but not segregation. I would argue that the anti-war marches eventually helped end the war nonetheless. Levine points to the work of groups that are using direct action and public shaming of banks to prevent foreclosures as a way to win small victories and develop activists. I’m inclined to agree. I may not be aware of the extent to which my background of having experienced countless victories by ACORN before ACORN was destroyed has made me immune to defeatism and hopium withdrawal.

    I’m thrilled to see the independent activism of campaigns like USUncut going after the corporatocracy, even though I wonder whether saving particular houses wouldn’t build more activism than holding PR protests, protests that send a message more than they actually interfere with business and robbery as usual. I also favor targeting Congress in ways that may not lead to immediate or complete victory but inspire people through how much fun they are and how clearly they communicate the problem. Imagine if everyone who needs a job showed up at Congress with a resume in hand: http://briefcasebrigades.org Imagine if online organizing, while detached and isolating, promoted independent and empowering messages that could then be taken into real communities: http://rootsaction.org

    Levine recommends learning from planned communities and withdrawing from the corporate economy, considering the possibilities for state secession, and as long as our government won’t make education free avoiding — if possible — the disempowering student-debts that come with university degrees. In 2001, he points out, MIT put 1,900 of its courses online for free. Most college education comes from books, and books can be had without the colleges. Levine recommends foreign travel and volunteer work. He praises collective businesses and farms. But he is not so much preaching escapism and false purity as he is counseling therapeutic preparation for the struggles people seem unable to take on, struggles we could quite easily win if we had our heads on straight.

    Author’s Website: http://davidswanson.org

    Author’s Bio: David Swanson is the author of “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and For

  7. eslkevin says:

    (Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Associate Member, or higher).

    April 25, 2011

    The Corporate State Wins Again

    By Chris Hedges

    From Truthdig

    When did our democracy die? When did it irrevocably transform itself into a lifeless farce and absurd political theater? When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party — which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible — wither and atrophy? When did reform through electoral politics become a form of magical thinking? When did the dead hand of the corporate state become unassailable?

    The body politic was mortally wounded during the long, slow strangulation of ideas and priorities during the Red Scare and the Cold War. Its bastard child, the war on terror, inherited the iconography and language of permanent war and fear. The battle against internal and external enemies became the excuse to funnel trillions in taxpayer funds and government resources to the war industry, curtail civil liberties and abandon social welfare. Skeptics, critics and dissenters were ridiculed and ignored. The FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA enforced ideological conformity. Debate over the expansion of empire became taboo. Secrecy, the anointing of specialized elites to run our affairs and the steady intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens conditioned us to totalitarian practices. Sheldon Wolin points out in “Democracy Incorporated” that this configuration of corporate power, which he calls “inverted totalitarianism,” is not like “Mein Kampf” or “The Communist Manifesto,” the result of a premeditated plot. It grew, Wolin writes, from “a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences.”

    Corporate capitalism — because it was trumpeted throughout the Cold War as a bulwark against communism — expanded with fewer and fewer government regulations and legal impediments. Capitalism was seen as an unalloyed good. It was not required to be socially responsible. Any impediment to its growth, whether in the form of trust-busting, union activity or regulation, was condemned as a step toward socialism and capitulation. Every corporation is a despotic fiefdom, a mini-dictatorship. And by the end, Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs had grafted their totalitarian structures onto the state.

    The Cold War also bequeathed to us the species of the neoliberal. The neoliberal enthusiastically embraces “national security” as the highest good. The neoliberal — composed of the gullible and cynical careerists — parrots back the mantra of endless war and corporate capitalism as an inevitable form of human progress. Globalization, the neoliberal assures us, is the route to a worldwide utopia. Empire and war are vehicles for lofty human values. Greg Mortenson, the disgraced author of “Three Cups of Tea,” tapped into this formula. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan are ignored or dismissed as the cost of progress. We are bringing democracy to Iraq, liberating the women of Afghanistan, defying the evil clerics in Iran, ridding the world of terrorists and protecting Israel. Those who oppose us do not have legitimate grievances. They need to be educated. It is a fantasy. But to name our own evil is to be banished.

    We continue to talk about personalities — Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama — although the heads of state or elected officials in Congress have become largely irrelevant. Lobbyists write the bills. Lobbyists get them passed. Lobbyists make sure you get the money to be elected. And lobbyists employ you when you get out of office. Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations. Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, in their book “Winner-Take-All Politics,” point out that the share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40-million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.” Six-million people may be forced from their homes because of foreclosures and bank repossessions. But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17-trillion in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders, is giddily handing out $17.5-billion in compensation to its managers, including $12.6-million to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

    The massive redistribution of wealth, as Hacker and Pierson write, happened because lawmakers and public officials were, in essence, hired to permit it to happen. It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way. The armies of lobbyists, who write the legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have been able to short-circuit the electorate. Hacker and Pierson pinpoint the administration of Jimmy Carter as the start of our descent, but I think it began long before with Woodrow Wilson, the ideology of permanent war and the capacity by public relations to manufacture consent. Empires die over such long stretches of time that the exact moment when terminal decline becomes irreversible is probably impossible to document. That we are at the end, however, is beyond dispute.
    The rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the neoliberals sustains the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and their liberal apologists offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. The reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or Republicans, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour. Wolin writes, “By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes” that it can make their interests a priority, the Democratic Party “pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.

    The systems of information, owned or dominated by corporations, keep the public entranced with celebrity meltdowns, gossip, trivia and entertainment. There are no national news or intellectual forums for genuine political discussion and debate. The talking heads on Fox or MSNBC or CNN spin and riff on the same inane statements by Sarah Palin or Donald Trump. They give us lavish updates on the foibles of a Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen. And they provide venues for the powerful to speak directly to the masses. It is burlesque.

    It is not that the public does not want a good health-care system, programs that provide employment, quality public education or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens to find out what is happening in the centers of power. Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying. The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.

    We live in a fragmented society. We are ignorant of what is being done to us. We are diverted by the absurd and political theater. We are afraid of terrorism, of losing our job and of carrying out acts of dissent. We are politically demobilized and paralyzed. We do not question the state religion of patriotic virtue, the war on terror or the military and security state. We are herded like sheep through airports by Homeland Security and, once we get through the metal detectors and body scanners, spontaneously applaud our men and women in uniform. As we become more insecure and afraid, we become more anxious. We are driven by fiercer and fiercer competition. We yearn for stability and protection. This is the genius of all systems of totalitarianism. The citizen’s highest hope finally becomes to be secure and left alone.

    Human history, rather than a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination. Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests. The brief democratic opening in our society in the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements, unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized by political charades, cheap consumerism and virtual hallucinations as we were ruthlessly stripped of power.

    The game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most Americans will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word — more. They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and culture values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global, corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.

    Author’s Bio:
    Chris Hedges spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

    Hedges was part of the team of reporters at The New York Times awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism. He also received the Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism in 2002. The Los Angeles Press Club honored Hedges’ original columns in Truthdig by naming the author the Online Journalist of the Year in 2009, and granted him the Best Online Column award in 2010 for his Truthdig essay “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists.”

    Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute in New York City and has taught at Columbia University, New York University and Princeton University. He currently teaches inmates at a correctional facility in New Jersey.

    Hedges began his career reporting the war in El Salvador. Following six years in Latin America, he took time off to study Arabic and then went to Jerusalem and later Cairo. He spent seven years in the Middle East, most of them as the bureau chief there for The New York Times. He left the Middle East in 1995 for Sarajevo to cover the war in Bosnia and later reported the war in Kosovo. Afterward, he joined the Times’ investigative team and was based in Paris to cover al-Qaida. He left the Times after being issued a formal reprimand for denouncing the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq.

    He has written nine books, including “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle” (2009), “I Don’t Believe in Atheists” (2008) and the best-selling “American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America” (2008). His book “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. His latest book is “Death of the Liberal Class” (2010)

    Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, Calif. Hedges speaks Arabic, French and Spanish and knows ancient Greek and Latin. In addition to writing a weekly original column for Truthdig, he has written for Harper’s Magazine, The New Statesman, The New York Review of Books, Adbusters, Granta, Foreign Affairs and other publications.

  8. eslkevin says:

    1 Timothy 6:17-19 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

    An audio message that shows how things actually work very differently from what we expect, and you can lead people to God one at a time…not in groups, and not by words, but by action.

    [audio src="http://mp3.hutchcraft.com/web/awwy/A_Word_With_You_04-21-2011.mp3" /]

  9. Pingback: Supreme Court is out to Bankrupt Americans with this new law « Eslkevin's Blog

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